As against the normalization of self-tracking technologies (Crawford et al., 2015), pregnancy apps introduce the unborn into social networking and data commodification. Through interviews with women who use, partially use and do not use such apps, the proposed presentation explores how women discuss the tension between the information gained and submitted, and how they embrace as well as resist the features that these apps afford them.
Adding to research based on interviews (Connor et al., 2018) or focus groups (Lupton, 2016) with women, and interpretive readings of the apps themselves (e.g. Lupton & Thomas, 2015), we shed light on women’s hesitations and negotiations as they “walkthrough” (Dieter et al., 2019) the app with the interviewer. In turn, this methodological move allows us to consider the extent to which users are coerced into use and are unable to opt out (Barassi, 2017), heading Wyatt’s (2014) call to incorporate non-use – and non-uses – into the study of use.
Preliminary interviews suggest that non-use is predicated on familiarity with the apps; and that the interviewees discuss pregnancy apps as residing within an ecosystem of fertility/reproductive apps, some of which (e.g. menstruation and breastfeeding) are acceptable. At this point, the commodification of the datafied body – a major cause for scholarly concern – does not come up in the interviews as the reluctance to transition from an authoritative source of information into an informal one (“I preferred to avoid that part… it was intended to create a community of pregnant women… I understand, but in practice it was stressful”); and resistance – albeit rudimentary – to potential use of personal information for political purposes (“I became pregnant when Roe v. Wade was turned… And my decision to delete the app came totally from not wanting information about when I became pregnant, or when was my last period, be part of some database.”).
Barassi, V. (2017). BabyVeillance? SM+S, 3(2).
Connor, K. et al. (2018). Descriptive, qualitative study of women who use mobile health applications. JoOG&NN, 47(6).
Crawford, K. et al. (2015). Our metrics, ourselves. EurJoCS, 18(4-5).
Dieter, M. et al. (2019). Multi-situated app studies. SM+S, 5(2).
Lupton, D. (2016). The use and value of digital media for information about pregnancy and early motherhood. BMCP&C, 16(1).
Lupton, D., & Thomas, G. (2015). Playing pregnancy. M/CJ, 18(5).
Wyatt, S. (2014), Bringing users and non-users